by Kelly Delany
Slamming car doors, rustling keys, and the exaggerated sighs of people coming home float through the slates of my bedroom curtain. The noise rips me out of the paper fantasy I spent the day in. Letting my pen hold my place between chapters, I make my way out into the kitchen.
The survey of the refrigerator’s population reveals an egg and a number of expired condiments. Opening the wooden cabinets above the fridge, a hopeful box of pancake mix is revealed. All I need now is milk. Looking to the map of the neighborhood I crafted, I check to make sure the Seven-Eleven is inside my allotted safety zone.
I peel off the t-shirt I’ve been wearing since last night and turn to my closet for the single black dress it has to offer. I twist up my hair to disguise the days of dirt that has built up, as my mind makes a list of what I need to go outside.
Wallet, keys, phone…protection.
My fingers grip everything on my list twice to reassure myself that I haven’t forgotten anything. My fingers lingering on the gun’s cold caress, safety and necessity teasing my morals. I walk through the neighborhood, watching living room lights switch off as porch lights switch on. The Seven-Eleven stands on the corner, its florescent lights washing out the dim yellow of the surrounding porches giving them all the glow of a twenty-four hour establishment.
I scan the aisles of the empty store, as my finger tips graze over chipped black paint residing on the tiny fence separating cars from the store windows. The sound of the cicadas that had been building my whole way over is suddenly interrupted with the rev of an engine begging for attention. My eyes fall into the long reflection of light sliding along the freshly waxed black paint of the Porsche as it pulls into the center parking spot. The man at the driver side’s eyes on me the whole time.
I push open the doors and allow myself one last nervous glance at the Porsche. My mind races, reviewing every threat scribbled in blue on the back of the post cards placed in my mailbox every Friday. As my breath begins catching in my throat, I remind myself they’ve been coming for months, and nothing’s been acted on. I can’t let my paranoia get in the way, I need milk.
The bell above the door rings as I make it to the counter and the smell of cheap Chinese food and cologne floats in.
The knee jerk reaction of being called by name brings my attention to the door. Standing in the door is an oddly familiar face. His black eyes grip mine as he exposes the dull barrel of a Smith and Wesson, the same gun my anonymous admirer had informed me he owned. Paralyzed, I listen to the single pop, before watching the spilled milk turn pink on the tiles below me.
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Kelly Delany is a Pastry Chef by day, and a previously unpublished writer by night.